HAPPY NEW YEAR everyone! It’s that time of year when New Year’s resolutions are being birthed and goals are being set. I don’t know about you but I’m lucky enough to have a friend who I share my annual goals with. We connect at least every quarter (we live in different countries) on skype to chat about life and how we are doing with our goals, discuss what’s working, what isn’t and why not. Sometimes (read often) we end up mirroring back to each other that we’ve come further along in achieving our goals than we realize or are able to admit to ourselves.
Last year, I set myself some clear writing goals for the first time and this year, I’ve taken the learning from that and set myself a whole host of mini and ambitious goals that I’m going to achieve in 2015. I’d like to share them in this post, in the hope that you feel encouraged to set your own writing goals to paper or screen and get to feel a sense of achievement at the end of 2015.
In 2014, I set out to achieve these two major writing-related goals.
- To get into a PhD in Creative Writing programme with a fully paid scholarship
- To write a 150,000 word first draft manuscript
Here are the sub-goals I achieved related to my first major goal:
- I developed my PhD project proposal
- Had experts comment on it
- Re-drafted the proposal based on expert feedback
- Found supervisors who wanted to work with me on my PhD project
- Filled out an application to PhD programmes at two UK universities
- Lined up my references in time to submit the application
- Applied before the deadlines
And I did this while working full-time in a demanding job and travelling a lot.
Results: I got accepted on both programmes (Yaay!) but though I was told by both departments that I had a ‘fundable’ project I didn’t win the scholarships, which were extremely competitive (Boo!). I had already decided that I didn’t want to be in debt in my thirties unless it involved buying a house so I decided to focus on writing and gave myself some space to think about re-applying more widely the next year.
Now, things went differently for my second major goal. I not only managed to meet my goal, I far surpassed it writing over 300,000 words in what evolved into a four part series of novels. I’m going to focus on editing and refining drafts this year. While reviewing my goals with my friend, I realized that I had also achieved various other goals that helped me take my writing career to an improved level. Here’s the list:
- I invested in the writing tool Scrivener after testing it, to store my research and organize content for another writing project that I’m working on
- I published a book review for Mascara Literary Review
- I edited and submitted a short story for publication in tambdimati
- I attended the Goa Arts and Literary festival as a participant where I moderated a panel session on Genre fiction and interacted with schoolchildren, answering their questions about writing
- Bought a Kindle
- Got a job writing travel features for Skyscanner, and
- Read 31 books out of the 30 I set myself as a Goodreads goal for 2014 (Woo hoo!)
To set these two major goals in motion, I had to take a pretty big risk and a leap of faith. After I completed my year and a half contract working full time with an organization based in Delhi, I turned down a two year contract with them so that I could move back to Goa and write full-time, while living off my savings. It was a nerve-wracking decision and people still react like I’m crazy when I tell them what I’ve given up i.e. a stable income for 2 years, in a job that I loved, I might add. However, I was happy to move away from Delhi back to Goa and to be on working on my own timeline, focussed on projects that were based on my own vision and creativity, not someone else’s.
For 2015, here’s what I’m setting out to achieve:
- Refine the quadrilogy and finalise drafts
- Complete a novella based on a short story I wrote in 2009
- Submit a commentary piece to India Currents
- Conduct a creative writing workshop in Goa
- Collaborate with other artists in other media to bring alive text that I’ve written into other formats
- Print business cards
- Attend the Jaipur Literary festival in January
- Start a book group
- Travel to various sites for research for another writing project
- Attend the STORY seminar by Robert McKee in London in May 2015
- Watch all of the 10 Ted Talks by Authors
I’m sure that these writing goals will be refined and further developed over the coming months, but it’s good to have aim at something before you get to the end of another year and ask yourself: What have I achieved that’s helped me develop my writing craft or career?
Keep in mind that you might have already achieved some steps towards this that don’t at first seem obvious to you. Perhaps you bought a book that helped you think more clearly about writing or you spent a lot of time day-dreaming about a story (now all you have to do is write it up). Micro-goals and Micro-steps count. One of my micro-steps is making the effort to look at my writing goals everyday to help keep me focused and on-track!
So, what are your writing goals for 2015?